Sunday, 14 September 2014

Darwin Wild Pursuits Around Downe

On 17 September 1842 Charles Darwin and his pregnant wife moved into Down House and resided in the village until his death.
To coincide with the date author Ewa Prokop publishes Darwin's Wild Pursuits around Downe; 14 short stories each based on a conversation between Darwin and an animal. For further detail on Ewa's book read the mad about Charles Darwin blog
Ewa has previously written about Downe in Shropshire and Downe:Two Landscapes Darwin held Dear Amazon page and spent 18 years living in the village and serving as a conservation officer involved in the world heritage site bids in 2007 and 2010. I enjoyed Ewa's earlier work and although her new book is imed at a younger readership value her local knowledge of the village.
My Downe parish register transcripts are online at Kent Online Parish Clerks  Downe page. The delayed Baptismal register from 1812 will be published in future. I had hoped that this register would receive the support of Family Search but they withdrew from a cooperative Indexing agreement and I have now reworked material.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Kent Online Parish Clerks Bromley page

The concept of a single page for all parishes in Bromley Kent and transcripts for all registers is simple to say but has involved a great deal of effort to achieve.
Complete transcripts for Bromley Holy Trinity were completed in 2013 and as I begin proof reading the marriage registers for the last years of the nineteenth century in September 2014 the transcripts for Saints Peter and Saint Paul from 1558-1900's are on target to be completed by December 2014.
In addition the rare 1801 census and the growing "other records" links to the practice prescription and accounts ledger of Doctor Thomas Ilott 1809-1814 followed by the index to Doctor Ilott's day book of visits and consultations into the 1830's will be added in the year ahead.
I am about to begin to transcribe the Dunn and Company Funeral Directors Accounts ledgers from the early 1800s onwards.
Other parishes formed from the Ancient parish will then be transcribed and added.
Over time the Bromley page Kent Online Parish Clerks Bromley will offer researchers a comprehensive series of records from the early history of the town and parish to the twentieth century.
I echo the expression of the rumbustious actor Brian Blessed who said "You can feel them. It starts sinking into your DNA molecules.You can feel them growing within you". I believe that feeling is common to many who research their own family members but it certainly has been my experience as I have tried to decipher the witness signatures on marriage register entries or read other register volumes.
I am grateful to the staff at Bromley Archives and Local Studies Library for their support in undertaking work on dozens of volumes of registers and other records to produce the transcripts available online to a worldwide audience.
Now in my 45th year of transcribing records I am grateful to achieve this collection and receive emails from so many research organisations.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Prescription:Orange peas

As I continue the transcription of the prescription ledger of Doctor Thomas Ilott I came upon a Hayes Kent household where for several months alongside other treatments Orange Peas are prescribed.
Ilott was both an Apothecary and Surgeon and treats the unidentified "Miss" for most of 1810 in a number of visits.
In the Bromley district of Kent there were many crops grown and this would appear to be a local variety now only preserved as a Heritage seed.
It is a tantalising find and I wonder what medicinal properties lead to the prescription alongside the other treatments?
The transcript is not only valuable for family history and genealogical research but reveals the world of the Apothecary and medical practitioner of the years before the Battle of Waterloo,

Monday, 18 August 2014

The Bromley Trenail maker

As I was transcribing a Bromley marriage register at Bromley Archives I found the occupation of trenail maker recorded.
Spelling varies from trenail treenail,trennel or trunnel but the wooden peg or pin was  used in boatbuilding and construction. Because wooden pegs grip tighter as water is absorbed and there is no chemical reaction as in a metal nail driven into wooden joints, planking on ships benefited from this method of fixing.
In many wooden frame buildings trenails are visible projections from joints in the timber.
I reflected on how many occupations recorded in the Bromley marriage register 1837-1848 related to the Thames ships and ship construction.
The places of abode also reflect families of Thames Watermen, coal whippers  see my blog and shipping and naval occupations.
Bromley  was home to several captains of ships both navy and East India Company, Royal Marines (usually recorded as at Greenwich) Fishermen seamen and even one Petty Officer from the asylum at Greenwich.
I recall also that Keston parish includes a Fishing boat Captain in the registers.
All Bromley Transcripts are published online at Kent Online Parish Clerks Bromley page.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Bethlem Museum of the Mind and relocated blog

The Bethlem Heritage blog has moved and is now part of the new website for the Museum of the Mind see Bethlem Museum of the Mind
Asbestos removal has delayed buidling work on the Museum which is now planned to open in December.
My evocation of a 19th century inmate of Bethlem for "the noble sin of drinking" was filmed some time ago and once it has emerged from  digital post production editing in East London will hopefully take up residence at the Museum to greet visitors.

Doctor Thomas Ilott Surgeon Prescription Accounts Ledger

Bromley Archives and Kent Online Parish Clerks have entered into an agreement to transcribe the surviving accounts ledger which covers 1809-1812. The Project is scheduled for completion in 2015 and will involve online publication as well as providing searchers at the Archive with an electronic index of persons named in the practice accounts. The index will also describe some treatments offered. This additional index within years of the rare survival Bromley 1801 census will provide additional information about residents of the town and district.
Thomas Ilott came to Bromley in 1808/9 and Horsbrugh in Bromley: From the earliest times to the present century describes him as a surgeon.
One of the challenges facing me as I conduct a pilot sample of over 1100 named accounts in the ledger is to learn more of Thomas Ilott life before his successful practice in the town. The Ilott father and sons were to provide medical service to the town and district including the poor of several parishes for most of the 19th century. Thomas died in 1849 and was buried in the parish churchyard not far from his home. His will mentions the surgery coach house and stable and a fine Georgian House on the corner of Church Lane and . The footprint of this faces the Old Bell in Bromley High Street and part of the land forms a Bank to the present; the remainder was acquired to build Medhurst's department store.
His partner in the practice Doctor Robert's wife bequeathed to Ilott Beechfield in Widmore Lane which passed to one of Ilotts sons James William Ilott who made it his home until his death in 1897. Edward Ilott M.D. Surgeon another son lived at 2 Dunbar Villas according to an entry in Strongs Directory of Bromley 1866.
Thomas Ilott was born in 1780 at Broadwell in Oxfordshire and the parish register records his christening.
I am very grateful to  the Archivist and Records manager at the Royal College of Surgeons for establishing in the Societys Examinations Book 1800-1820 that Thomas Ilott  was examined for a Diploma on 16 March 1804  and paid a fee of 15,,15 (sic) which I take to mean 15 guineas.Some 4-5  years later he arrives as a surgeon in Bromley and the accounts and prescription register records that he possessed both skills as an apothecary, set fractured bones in plaster and was accomplished in obstetrics as he records the delivery of children as well as regularly carrying out dental extractions. It is known that one of his grandsons qualified at Barts and this is suggestive that this is where Thomas also trained.
In Hayes Ilott is conducting smallpox inoculations within 8 years of David Jenner writing of the efficacy of inoculation. The burial registers of parishes in the Bromley district indicate the scale of death from smallpox. Ilott was therefore well trained and aware and his work in parishes which employed him saved many young lives from disease.
I have learned a good deal about the fairly primitive medical practice of the 1800's and Ilott had a substantial income.
The ledger is in good condition but had not been examined for several years and recent daily handling have reduced the initial dust and odour; I have found it essential to wear gloves as leather rust on the covers and the danger of paper cuts were present. The volume is large but the inks are well preserved and pose few challenges for the transcriber.
I am interested to try to discover how Ilott entered medical practice;it is quite difficult to trace medical qualification  in the 1800's as over 30 institutions may have trained a practitoner usually by apprentice to a surgeon or physician. Further research is being undertaken to try to identify if possible Ilott's career prior to Bromley.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

The Coal Whipper of Bromley

In the 1862 marriage register of Sts Peter and Paul Bromley the father of the bride one William Hunt is described as a coal whipper.
Coal Whippers were employed in the Port of London to discharge coal from vessels by carrying baskets from ship to barges. The manner in which they were recruited according to Gladstone's account given to the House of Commons in August 1843 (see Hansard coal-whippers Bill debate August 1843) was by publicans who profited greatly from the practice. Gang leaders were called basket men and relied in most cases on publicans to provide them with both baskets and labour. The conditions of coal whippers had long been a problem for Parliament and the City of London. In 1797 an application was made to parliament and in 1803 the Coal Whippers Act had attempted to prevent publicans from employing men but had been ineffective; in 1807 a strict monopoly placed hiring in the Court of Aldermen. Then in 1831 the House of Commons attempted to influence the publicans domination of working conditions but failed and in 1838 the Commons attempted to have men paid on board ship. After 5 years this had failed to influence conditions.
Gladstone as President of the Board of Trade quoted the number of coal ships unloaded in London by publican recruited labour as:
1841     3690
1842     4000
In 1843 the Coal Vendors Act established a central office of Employment ending the practice of the heaviest drinkers obtaining work from publicans and others. A contemporary description of the London Coal trade can be read here.
Sir Henry Mayhews account of the coal trade of London here also describes the period before the Act.
William Hunt  the coal whipper referred to in 1862 would have witnessed changes in the Pool of London as a result of these long awaited reforms to one of the hardest occupations in the capital.